Wednesday, November 12, 2014
I crawled under the warm covers of our bed and sleeplessness invited thoughts, swirling as if to mimic the treacherous wind outside. In home schooling our focus in these last two weeks has been on the former USSR. An upbeat jingle for Geography has enlightened our minds to each country along the Southern border of Russia. In History we've read of the people, their traditions, customs, religions and livelihood. And we have read of poverty, struggle, and endurance. The sharp sting of winter crouching at our own front door reminded me especially of the people of the Ukraine. I felt guilty over the blessings I have and grieved over their persecution.
Each school day, for the last five years (since Hepatitis shook our lives), twenty-two-year-old Olena, our faithful helper, has worked alongside me from 9 to 3 to run the house and assist in schooling. She is a treasure to our family and sometimes knows what I'm thinking before the words form. She is Ukranian. I often hear of the tumult in her land and hardships through which the Easterners suffer. This morning I asked for the latest news and if perhaps I could gather coats to send before the icy winter consumes the lives of some who are only barely surviving.
Olena spoke in her gentle, stoic manner, 'Yes, coats would be a blessing, but we can get them to our people. We have a Christian organization that will send whatever you have. Many in the Western Ukraine are also helping and yesterday I heard of a woman who has almost nothing, giving what she had, out of compassion. Also, an old building was quickly transformed to house many homeless families.'
'We could have given in long ago and our cities and people would have fared far better, but we are not willing to give our country away. We believe in the community we have, though our cities are poor, they are beautiful. Things have changed so much, but we love our country. Though churches in the East are destroyed, we believe and trust God, and have His help. Though we struggle, He is mighty. Here in my Ukrainian church we have grown from 600 to 800 members. The Evil that would try to destroy us cannot destroy our hearts, it is building up our faith in Christ. Just this morning, the cold sweep in my country relented and at least for now, since it has not hit freezing, many are still alive who have very little and are underground. We are thankful.'
The school day is long over, and my frigid feelings and stark, sad emotions of the early morning have given way to Hope. Sometimes it is another's hope and faith that draw us back to realignment with the truth we know. The pots outside, on the back deck, standing sturdy yet exposed, in this late afternoon light, give a different view of the fading fall. There is new growth amidst the change and even a few flowers that seem more beautiful because of the environment in which they choose to bloom. I needed Olena's perspective to open my eyes to the good.
Paul ends the chapter with the blessings of peace, faith, grace and Christ's undying love. As David Crowder sings, "There is no hurt that heaven can't heal!" Bleakness is not God's way, He gives hope for tomorrow and encouragement for today.